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10 Questions To Ask Yourself Before Visiting Your Friend’s New Baby

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The trend of crowdsourcing help after you have a new baby is so bizarre. I’m sure we’ve seen all the lists our there, wherein people tell you exactly what you can and can not do when you visit their new baby. Whenever I see one of these, my eyes roll so far back into my head I take an involuntary nap.

The only real rules that apply to visiting new parents have everything to do with how close you are to these people. Nobody wants to see peripheral acquaintances when they are recovering from labor. It’s just not the time. So here is a list of questions that will help you suss out whether you should bother trying to visit a new family before they are ready to emerge from their home with their new infant.

1. Are you close enough to these people, that if you arrive without food they can say, “What the fuck? Where’s the food?” without upsetting you?

2. Do you know this new mom well enough that if her boob accidentally flops out of her nursing bra, you’ll both be nonplussed?

3. Are you good enough friends that you can say, “I don’t want to hold that baby. I hate babies. I’m just here for you.”

4. Do you like these people enough to sit in silence for a few minutes staring at each other because they are so shellshocked and tired that they have nothing interesting to say?

5. Can you look at someone with breast milk on her shirt, no make-up on, and dark circles under her eyes and say “You look incredible!” in a believable tone?

6. Can you refrain from mentioning the great sex or nap you’ve had today?

7. Are you close enough to this couple that you would want them visiting you if you were ever laid up in a hospital?

8. Do you actually really like these people?

9. Will you be okay if these new parents douse you in antibacterial lotion and look at your hands as if they’ve been dipped in cyanide?

10. Are you content with the knowledge that all these parents really want from you are snacks?

If you answered “yes” to all of these questions… go see your friends and their new baby.

(photo: Ollyy/ Shutterstock)

54 Comments

  1. Elisa Probert

    June 13, 2014 at 3:20 pm

    I have one friend I’d totally go see if she had a new baby. I would take her brownies, and then I’d steal her adorable six year old and two year old and take them to the park for a few hours. Probably feed them dinner, too.

    Most people, nope, not going to see them and I wouldn’t want most people coming to see me if I had a new baby. (hell, I don’t even like having people at my house with NO baby and me looking hotttt)

    • Melissa

      June 13, 2014 at 3:31 pm

      Stealing the six and two-year-old to go to the park is the best gift I’ve ever heard of–screw buying any crap off the baby registry! You are an awesome friend.

    • Elisa Probert

      June 13, 2014 at 9:51 pm

      I probably won’t have the opportunity though…my friend insists she’s done. I’m like, but I missed the last one because I was getting married right after he was born.

      I should just go nab them and take them out for a day anyway. LOL They’re aweseome kids.

  2. momma425

    June 13, 2014 at 3:21 pm

    The only “rules” I had for visiting my daughter were:
    1) You need to be vaccinated
    2) You cannot be sick (even if it is “just a cold”)
    3) wash your hands
    4) no, your toddler cannot hold my baby
    I let people in the door if they didn’t bring treats for me, but they weren’t invited back. Haha

    • NotTakenNotAvailable

      June 13, 2014 at 3:45 pm

      Thank you for giving me additions to my craptastic excuses for not holding babies!
      1) I never got my MMR booster because I was eligible for it back in the days when even the most sound medical professionals were linking vaccines to EVERYTHING, not just autism, and I was diagnosed with Type I diabetes at a then-inconceivable age (2 years), which was obviously after I’d gotten the initial vaccination. I didn’t get the booster because my father the M.D. didn’t want to find out what else could possibly go wrong.
      2) I am pretty much always “just getting over the flu” whenever I’m around babies. It pretty much always guarantees that the babies, or at least their parents, aren’t going to stick around me for too long.
      3) I managed to convince a college classmate on the East Coast that we rednecks in Colorado only just got that fancy newfangled indoor plumbin’ in our state the year before I left, but what in thunderin’ tarnation was this here Anna-bac-tear-ee-all soap he was goin’ off about?! Heck, would he mind elaboratin’ on this here “soap” thingamajig? Ain’t never heard of that before…

      I somehow don’t think I managed to convince him I’d been joking. I somehow don’t think I’d be able to convince a new parent, either, even one from my home state, because it’s better to be safe than sorry.
      4) I don’t like toddlers, either.

      I generally don’t invite people who don’t make me food into my place, either, and all I’ve got as far as caretaking responsibilities is a 17-year-old cat who drinks out of the toilet, which I allow because I’m frankly proud of him for having that kind of agility at his age.

  3. Melissa

    June 13, 2014 at 3:39 pm

    Those lists of rules are getting out of hand. Only rule I have is “Don’t expect much”–this applies to everything from the cleanliness of my house to how pleasant of company I will be. Worst guests I have had after both my daughters were born were actually my parents. Both times after having my two daughters they dropped in the same day we arrived home from the hospital, brought food they know I don’t like (Chinese takeout–blech), didn’t offer to lift a finger to help us settle in or clean up, and criticized me for for being in such a “bad mood”. IF I had any more babies, they would most definitely be banned for at least the first few weeks.

    • NotTakenNotAvailable

      June 13, 2014 at 3:49 pm

      “Only rule I have is ‘Don’t expect much’–this applies to everything from the cleanliness of my house to how pleasant of company I will be.”

      This is my rule, too, in spite of my childfreedom. :p Also, you are a far more generous person than I, because your parents would be banned from my house FOR LIFE.

    • Melissa

      June 13, 2014 at 3:53 pm

      Ha! I think my husband would welcome a lifetime banishment for my parents, but I’m the middle child people-pleaser in the family and although I’m getting better at calling them on their occasional BS, I’m not quite there yet. I did rage at them this last time they dropped in on us and new baby. Never seen them leave so fast!

    • NotTakenNotAvailable

      June 13, 2014 at 4:47 pm

      It seems pretty rare to hear of any in-law relationship that’s picture perfect, though if that visit was any indication of what your parents are like normally, I could see where your husband’s coming from. :/ I know my blood pressure started to reach stratospheric levels when I knew my ex’s parents were coming to town…his mother wasn’t that bad, but she was a very intimidating person, and his stepfather was stingy in a way that would make the most Jewish of my family members gasp, “Oy! Have you no shame?!?” But part of the reason the ex and I parted on such bad terms was that he never questioned or contradicted his parents, even when they were in the wrong, so I commend you for taking a stand at all!

  4. CMJ

    June 13, 2014 at 3:54 pm

    I feel like if I am good enough friends with someone to go to their house and see their baby – I have no problem them saying something to me and vice versa.

  5. Jessifer

    June 13, 2014 at 3:54 pm

    I was actually happy to see people if they came by to see my new baby, regardless of whether they brought something (gifts, food) or did anything around the house. The fact that they took time out of their day to come congratulate me in person and tell me how beautiful my baby was, was good enough for me. Maybe I’m just incredibly easy-going, I dunno.

    • AE Vorro

      June 13, 2014 at 8:33 pm

      Yes! Sanity! These lists are so obnoxious. Not to mention endlessly repetitive. The intended audience (people who have no manners) don’t read them. To everyone else these articles and lists are just insanely patronizing.

  6. Greta Young

    June 13, 2014 at 3:55 pm

    I was bored out of my goddamned mind during my 6 weeks of maternity leave. I gave birth in August, in Phoenix AZ, so I was pretty much stuck indoors 100% of the time, unless I wanted to enjoy a humid 95 degree walk at 5am. I had just a handful of local friends and no local family members (my mom flew out for the birth, stayed a week, and my sister visited a week after that – both were gone by week 3.) I would have been THRILLED to have more visitors if only for a change of pace and to interact with another adult for a moment. I wish all the list-makers would have sent their rejected guests my way.

    • Jessifer

      June 13, 2014 at 3:58 pm

      THIS! My family came for the weekend after my son was born but after they all left and my husband went back to work, I was so lonely. I would have loved to have people dropping by to say hi (my friends all worked during the day so of course they couldn’t)

    • Greta Young

      June 13, 2014 at 4:03 pm

      Yup. I mean, binge watching all the seasons of Mad Men with a tiny human attached to one boob or the other was fun and all, but hardly a substitute for actual human interaction. Wish I’d known, we could have been skype buddies or something, haha!

    • Rose

      June 13, 2014 at 4:26 pm

      So very true. I am going to have a baby in 3 days. I know how boring/lonely it can be and welcome ANY visitors (if anything, the state of my house post-baby will make you feel good about yours!) But riddle me this, what about people who say, “let me know if I can do anything” without giving specifics? I feel weird saying, “you bring me food now?” or asking for anything in particular. Maybe I just need to get over it and say, “dinner would be cool”, or is that too demanding?

    • Kristen

      June 13, 2014 at 4:31 pm

      If people offer, I say take them up on it. Tell them to feel free to bring by some dinner or lunch or whatever. My friends were awesome and brought by all sorts of great take out. Or if they offer while they are there, ask them to throw in some laundry for you. Most people who make the offer are more than happy to help. Now that my baby is a year, I am just trying to find little ways to pay it forward.
      Also, I was happy to have any visitor, as long as they didn’t expect me to feed them or clean for them or not breastfeed in front of them. I liked the company and showing off my adorable daughter. But if they offered…
      Do not, as some of my facebook friends have done, share a sign up sheet with a list of suggested chores they’d like people to do for them .
      Also…. congratulations on having a baby in 3 days!! Newborn snuggles are the best!!

    • Greta Young

      June 13, 2014 at 4:36 pm

      If they’re asking what they can do to help you out, I think it’s fine to request some munchies (or something else you might need around the house that they could pick up easily on the way over – TP, milk, detergent… wine… earplugs… haha). And if you’re not comfortable asking them to bring a meal or whatever after they’ve offered, there are plenty of free things they can do for you once they get there, like hold the baby so you can shower in peace or brew yourself some coffee with two hands. 🙂 The demaning stuff is when people start imposing all these pre-requisites on others before they’re allowed admittance into the house, at least in my opinion.

    • Larkin

      June 13, 2014 at 9:49 pm

      I think that’s fine. Assume that, if someone asks, they are being genuine. If they’re not, then that’s their problem and they shouldn’t have asked in the first place.

      I visited one of my best friends three days after she had a baby, and I straight up asked her if she wanted us to pick up food for them on our way there. I think friends generally really do want to help and just don’t know what to do, hence the non-specific offers.

  7. Ursi

    June 13, 2014 at 3:55 pm

    I feel like the rules are getting out of hand but I do recognize that people can be incredibly clueless when visiting new parents. If you expect them to “entertain” you, you need a reality check.

    In our family there was one set of parents that I was really turned off from visiting. I’ll come to a place with a new baby and I’m happy to help out and I’m happy to bring a dish. But this couple agreed to have a mass schedule sent out where you could sign up to bring them food each day and it’s like. Are you kidding me? Your family who cares about you will bring food and any one who can’t offer to help out they shouldn’t be visiting this early anyway.

    So I didn’t come because I was so irked by the spoken expectation.

    • Melissa

      June 13, 2014 at 3:57 pm

      Those lists to sign up to bring meals are great for occasions like someone recovering from surgery or bereavement. But expecting everyone who visits you and new baby to bring a meal? Ridic.

    • Ursi

      June 13, 2014 at 3:58 pm

      YES. If it had been for helping out someone who was ailing, I would not have hesitated.

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    • Greta Young

      June 13, 2014 at 4:09 pm

      If it was an effort coordinated by someone other than the new parents (church community, friends, family member, co-workers, etc), I think it’s a really nice gesture. But imposing an excel spreadsheet of sign-up times & mandatory meal donations on any prospective visitor? Wow.

    • Jennie Blair

      June 13, 2014 at 6:05 pm

      I think the worst ones are the open facebook posts with a list of chores and rules for visiting, hate to break it to you but your squishy screaming sack of baby isnt worth my doing your laundry and bringing you vegan muffins from some crazy place downtown and hitting up ikea for your new cabinets. Plan ahead mofos.

    • C.J.

      June 14, 2014 at 3:20 pm

      We did this for a friend who’s two daughters were going on vacation with their father and got in a car accident. One girl was injured and the other died. There was a pretty big group of us. We had a sign up sheet and someone delivered dinner to them for close to two months. Her mother let us know ahead of time if someone else was taking care of dinner for them so we wouldn’t make anything. We let her know we would do it as long as she wanted. She let us know when she was ready to take cooking back over and was super appreciative. For a new baby, no way. Not unless there was a big problem and recovery is very difficult. I didn’t expect that when I had a stroke and was paralyzed. My husband cooked.

    • noodlestein

      June 13, 2014 at 4:30 pm

      I agree that the expectation of food is nonsense. Now, in the community I used to live in, it was a tradition for OTHER people to organize a meal schedule for the first couple of weeks, but that’s different, I think. Then it’s just something nice your community is doing for you instead of you expecting people to do favors for you.

    • Spongeworthy

      June 13, 2014 at 4:44 pm

      NOPE to signing up to bring food. I am one to pretty much always bring food when I go see a new baby, because I like doing it and I appreciated it so much when people did it for me. My circle of friends has been busy in the baby dept the last few years, so I can put together a lasagna in 10 minutes flat. But if someone had a sign up sheet and made it a requirement to get in the door? I’m not going to see you just on principle.

    • CortCab

      June 13, 2014 at 8:16 pm

      I got added to a Facebook group instructing me to pick two days to cook for a new mom friend in my social circle. It was a nice enough idea, but I never volunteered for the task and the FB description reminded me to make enough to feed 4+ people since the mom’s parents were in town helping out for a few weeks. Wtf? You’ve got a husband and parents, and somehow it’s my job to cook for you all? No thanks.

    • Spongeworthy

      June 13, 2014 at 8:28 pm

      Oh hell to the no. If I don’t volunteer to do it, it’s because I’m not going to do it. And you’ve got your parents there for me to cook for too?! No. The entitlement of some people is astounding.
      I encourage all of my preggo friends to take a weekend to make a bunch of dinners and freeze them. I’ve even gone over and helped them do that. I would much rather do that than be told I have to show up twice a week with a meal for 4 people.

    • Larkin

      June 13, 2014 at 9:46 pm

      Yeah, that confuses me. My parents are coming into town when the baby pops out, and the main perk is that they will be able to cook and help with chores while they’re here. Why would I expect outside people to feed my extended family when they’re perfectly capable of doing it themselves???

    • K.

      June 14, 2014 at 10:20 am

      Yeahhhh….Fuck that.

      I’m one of those people who’d probably post this on FB in response to those stupid lists:

      Dear New Parents,

      Let’s get something straight. Here’s how baby visitation works:

      People are visiting so that they can see your new baby.
      Visitors do not come to do chores.
      It makes you a douchebag to treat visitors like their purpose is to take care of your shit.
      Generosity is that which is freely given, by definition. Congratulations on your new baby; still doesn’t mean anyone owes you food, cleaning services, dog-walking, home repair, babysitting, or baby gifts. Maybe that makes us ungenerous, and you have the right to put the relationship to bed if that pisses you off, but it doesn’t make us rude. You’re rude for demanding.

      Me? I only bring meals and offer household chores as a matter-of-course for those in mourning or the seriously ill.

      For new babies, eh, I might bring some muffins and some baby socks, but you must be a very, very good friend for me to offer pawing through your bloody underwear and taking out trash bags filled with used maxi-pads and not judging you when I come across your porn stash as I put away your clutter. And dishes? Fuck, I don’t even do those in my OWN house.

    • ted3553

      June 16, 2014 at 3:06 pm

      This whole notion is nuts to me. when I had my baby, I had friends and family come by and some of them brought a baby present. No one brought food or cleaned my house because neither of my legs or arms were broken (and I didn’t have a c-section).

  8. ALE515

    June 13, 2014 at 4:27 pm

    I’ve had family visit our newborn, and I never once expected them to bring a meal. Some did, and it was a nice surprise, but I would never ask for it. But if people asked to come over, I did state that it might be boring here 🙂

  9. JenH1986

    June 13, 2014 at 4:46 pm

    I actually need community help: a friend of mine had an emergency c-section at 27 weeks. The baby didn’t make it. She says she doesn’t want company which I respect. But I want to support her without pushing. She has no one. The father left early on. I have told her I will help and I check in to see if she needs anything. I did cook and plan on dropping off tomorrow. Her cousin stayed at the house so she won’t have to see me. Any other suggestions? I don’t want to push. I want to respect her and her grief. I know I can’t force her to do anything. But I am heart broken for her. Most everyone here has great thoughtsso I thought I would see if anyone has any suggestions.

    • Ursi

      June 13, 2014 at 5:22 pm

      I would keep dropping off food as long as she lets you because sometimes that’s the only way to be there for someone; just to make sure they eat.

      If her cousin is staying with her you could maybe ask the cousin what would be most helpful for her right now. I’d make a special effort to bring a treat she might appreciate on top of a meal, something small like her favorite candy.

      For checking in, if you have a way to do this via text, I recommend that because she might not want to take any calls but a text message is less intrusive and can be answered and the receiver’s discretion.

      You are a very good friend.

    • JenH1986

      June 13, 2014 at 7:32 pm

      OK. I have several meals planned but was afraid if I kept dropping it off she would feel pushed. I have only communicated by text. I asked if she wanted company and told her no was a perfectly acceptable answer. She seemed relieved. Which kills me for her. Her recovery physically is going to be bad. They cut her vertically. I just love her so much and hate that I can’t fix this lol as a counselor I want to help. someone mentioned movies so I might drop some off with dinners and snacks. Everyone is bringing dinner food so I made a sausage casserole and dropped off easy things like pop tarts and cheez its and uncrustables. Whatever it takes so she doesn’t feel like an island.ugh. I hate this for her.

    • Emil

      June 13, 2014 at 8:18 pm

      It makes me so sad that the father isn’t in the picture to support her. And to go through that traumatic surgery without a baby at the end of it. Glad she has a supportive friend like you. It really does make things less complicated that you don’t have kids yourself. I can’t describe the guilt that comes with having a perfectly healthy baby and watching a friend go through this.

    • NotTakenNotAvailable

      June 13, 2014 at 5:58 pm

      Seconding Ursi, and I’d say you can maybe add a note letting her know to call/text/email you whenever she’s feeling up for it. I know the last thing I want when I’ve just been knocked down hard is to have to see anyone, but since I also tend not to eat when I’m depressed, I’d feel slightly better knowing that someone cared enough to leave food. You’re an awesome person!

    • JenH1986

      June 13, 2014 at 7:25 pm

      She can hardly walk yet. So I figured food would be a good start. Easy stuff she just has to pop in the oven. I stopped by and helped her cousin clean her house. I left the baby stuff alone not knowing if she would freak out more if it was gone. Anything to help her get home and be less stressed.

    • Emil

      June 13, 2014 at 6:48 pm

      I had a close friend in a similar situation and found it incredibly difficult. I wish there was no mommyish articles about this kind of stuff. I was so heartbroken and didn’t want to do or say the wrong thing. I think food is a great idea but flowers/ cards also work. Also e-mail and text is less intrusive letting her know she is not obligated to respond. Offer to take her to the movies or some other distracting activity when she is feeling better. I don’t know if you have kids but I have opted not to talk about my own kids unless she brings it up. I don’t know if she has named the baby but referring to him/her by her name is helpful. Not sure if I should be giving advice because despite reading all sorts of articles on this I am always unsure if I am doing the right thing.

    • JenH1986

      June 13, 2014 at 7:23 pm

      She did name him. So that’s good. I can do that. I don’t have kids so that will make it easy. I didn’t think about the movie tho. I could find somethingto help her pass the time. She is pretty banged up physically so she has a long recovery for that.

    • Gangle

      June 14, 2014 at 8:40 pm

      Like everyone else says, food drop-offs are a pretty big thing. I have never had the tragedy of losing a baby, but I do remember when a very close relative died unexpectedly we were all too shell-shocked to think about food. I don’t think I would have eaten if people didn’t bring prepared food and prompted me to eat. I think that texting her to stay in touch and just let her know you are there if/when she needs you is a great idea. You are being such a wonderful friend.

  10. Bic

    June 13, 2014 at 4:53 pm

    I’m so glad I live in the uk. All we have to is get a gift and a card, turn up for an hour or less, say he or she is beautiful, then go home. It’s great, no cooking, cleaning or anything else!

    • FormerlyKnownAsWendy

      June 13, 2014 at 6:55 pm

      You guys have it so good 🙂

    • BexleyS

      June 15, 2014 at 4:54 pm

      Yeah I guess you’re right but I always take food (nothing home made and delicious, just junk food snacks) and I always offer to at least wash up although English people are generally far too polite to take the offer : ) When I had my daughter, 10 of my in laws turned up en masse and stayed for 2 days demanding to be fed etc and did literally NOTHING to help. I was so furious that they could be so rude when I was clearly struggling with a new baby.

  11. Linzon

    June 13, 2014 at 5:37 pm

    When people would visit us in the first few weeks I would just sit there thinking “The baby is sleeping, I could be napping right now, the baby is sleeping, I could be napping right now…” We never turned anyone away and I tried to be pleasant but I was so obsessed with naps.

    I am a big fan of the “here’s some food, congratulations, the baby is adorable, I’m going back to my quiet home now, bye!” visit, which is what I give to my friends.

  12. lin

    June 13, 2014 at 5:50 pm

    The food thing seems so weird to me. I appreciated if they offered to pick up coffees on the way so I didn’t have to make any.

  13. JohnLElkins

    June 13, 2014 at 6:50 pm

    I know the last thing I want when I’ve just been knocked down hard is to have to see anyone, but since I also tend not to eat when I’m depressed, I’d feel slightly better knowing that someone cared enough to leave food. You’re an awesome person! http://0rz.tw/vB6uT

  14. keetakat

    June 14, 2014 at 8:58 am

    I bring arms… I will hold your baby for hours so you can wash your hair, take a nap, make –and drink — a cup of coffee/tea, paint your toe nails, have a snack (or even a meal…no worries, I’m good). I’ll change the diapers while you ease back and sip on your glass of wine. That’s what I bring, arms…and vegan strawberry cupcakes that don’t feel or taste like a pencil eraser.

  15. gothicgaelicgirl

    June 14, 2014 at 11:35 am

    We had a neighbour who was notorious for dropping in and sitting there expecting to be entertained.
    She would invite herself to dinner, help herself to stuff in the cupboards, etc.

    My mom gave our emergency key to her near her due date so if she went into labour, we’d be able to get into the house (me and bro)

    This woman then used the key to let herself into the house, eat all of our food, leave her trashy magazines around the place and even had the nerve to “borrow” a John Rocha dress belonging to my mom, leaving her a note saying “You’ll never fit into it anymore”

    Needless to say, my mom was like an antichrist when she found out.

  16. Gangle

    June 14, 2014 at 8:26 pm

    I don’t get the signing up to bring food/clean house etc at all, especially if your husband/wife/partner has taken time off to be home with the baby. I always text before coming over to ask if now is a good time and do they want me to pick up bread/milk/coffee/baby wipes etc from the store, and am happy to get in the kitchen and make the cups of tea for everyone. I will even wash the dishes or get the clothes off the line if I see it needs doing. But that is about it. When GangleBaby arrives my husband is taking a few weeks off, and I absolutely do not expect my friends and family to come around and cook or clean for us. That is the what sandwich makers and meal freezing is for.

  17. Mary

    June 15, 2014 at 1:07 pm

    I think you forgot the two most important questions 1- Do the new parents want me to come visit? 2- Was I actually invited to come visit?

    I’m due with a child in August and honestly with very few exceptions I don’t want people around for a few weeks. I want a chance to recover from labor (husband will not be taking more than a couple of days off) and to adjust to having a new baby.

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